Types of Interviews
There are many different types of interviews, but most will last between 30-60 minutes and follow a similar format:
- Introductory exchange/small talk
- Mutual discussion of your background and qualifications as related to the employer's needs
- Time for your questions
- Information about the next steps in the process
With large organizations, the first interview may be conducted by a human resources specialist. The screening interview is generally quite short and often takes place via phone or Skype. Its purpose is to screen out those applicants who are clearly not qualified. The interview will consist of probing questions to determine your technical competence and open ended questions to assess your ability to communicate on your feet. While the emphasis is on technical competence, they will also screen out those whose personalities clearly would not fit in the organization's culture. Be sure to sell yourself. If you do well, you will likely be invited for a second interview.
Telephone or Skype interviews are often a form of a screening interview. Be sure to familiarize yourself with basic phone etiquette. In addition to the tips for general interviews, here are some tips on phone interviews:
- Use a land line if possible. Land lines are less likely to drop calls and are clearer than cell phones. The interview room in Career Services is equipped with a land line as well as a computer. Call (920) 832-6561 to reserve the room when setting up your phone interview. If you must use a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged and that you are in a location with good reception.
- Consider your surroundings. Take the call in a place where you will be uninterrupted. Avoid public places. Let your roommates know that you will be on an important call so they can plan ahead. Be aware of the background if you will be using Skype - a blank wall is best, to avoid distractions. You can reserve an interview room in Career Services for Skype interviews too.
- Consider time. Find out how long the call is expected to last. Allocate an additional 30 minutes beyond this time, just in case the interview goes long. Be ready to answer the phone 10 minutes ahead of schedule, in case the interviewer calls early. Keep time zones in mind as well. Will the employer be calling at 1 p.m. their time or your time?
- Use notes. (Only for phone interviews). Since the interviewer can't see you, feel free to lay out notes about the organization as well as the skills and experience you want to highlight. Print a copy of your résumé and the job description as well.
- Answer the phone with your name. Providing your name makes it clear that the interviewer is speaking to the correct person. You could say Hello, Jordan Heitt speaking or Good Morning/Afternoon, this is Jordan Heitt.
- Smile. When you smile, you sound optimistic and pleasant. This demonstrates professionalism and positivity.
- Sit up. Good posture helps you stay alert and professional.
- Dress up. Even though the interviewer can't see you (or all of you), dressing up can help you get into the right frame of mind. You know what they say, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have."
- Be aware of pauses. Because the interviewer may not be able to see you, he/she cannot take cues from your body language as to whether you have paused momentarily or have completed an answer. If you pause too long, the interviewer might think they lost the connection!
- Get the name and contact info of the interviewer(s). This will allow you to follow-up with a thank you note. It will also help you identify your interviewer(s) should you have the opportunity to meet them face-to-face.
In the panel interview, two or more people interview you simultaneously, usually taking turns asking questions. You may be interviewed by multiple individuals who have their own separate agendas. In a panel interview, you will often find that the only person really listening to your answer may be the person who asked it. Make each member feel totally involved in the interview by looking at each person while you are responding to questions.
The series interview consists of consecutive one-on-one interviews with different people in the organization, all in one day. The interviewers may include someone from human resources, the person to whom you will be reporting, two or three people who will be your colleagues in the same department or someone from a different department. The assumption behind series interviews is that several people's perspectives are better than one. After the series of interviews, the interviewers meet to discuss each candidate. There might not be agreement on the best candidate, but there is likely to be strong agreement on the finalists. The actual hiring manager with usually select one of them.
The key point in series interviewing is that you know in advance that it will be happening. You need to muster lots of energy to go through a series interview. Oftentimes, the same or very similar questions are asked in each interview, so be prepared to repeat yourself.